MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Saturday, Shelby County Health Directive 19 went into effect loosening restrictions on restaurants in Shelby County.
Restaurant owners say the pressure is slowly lifting as customers are feeling more comfortable venturing outside and spending their money.
As vaccine numbers increase and COVID-19 case numbers decrease, restaurant owners say they’re very optimistic.
And the smiles have returned to world-famous Beale Street.
“Beale Street is back!” Joellyn Sullivan, owner of Silky O’Sullivan’s told WMC Action News 5.
Sullivan says these past two weeks the crowds have been the biggest she’s seen since the COVID-19 pandemic began one year ago.
“We’re so excited not only do they want to get out, but they can get out safely,” said Sullivan.
Health Directive 19 went into effect Saturday allowing restaurants to stay open until 1 a.m., open up bar seating and seat tables of up to eight people.
The increase of business is bringing much needed jobs back to the Mid-South.
“I probably brought back almost 20 people now just since the end of February and we’d love to have a few more, so all of us are hiring,” said Sullivan.
Reservations have filled up almost daily,” said Nick Scott, Owner of Alchemy.
The tens of thousands of vaccines administered each week in Memphis and the lowest COVID-19 weekly positivity rate since last March has given Scott the confidence to finally reopen his doors.
He says those factors combined with warmer weather and looser restrictions are all coming together to bring back some profits.
“Yeah we’re going to utilize our patio to our max capacity as much as we can,” said Scott.
For more stories on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit wmcactionnews5.com/coronavirus.
Restaurant owners are hoping to experience a bright and enjoyable spring and summer that restaurants that have worked hard to return to.
“The switch is flipped. So we’re really excited,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan says returning downtown events like Grizzlies games with fans is also making a huge impact.